World Celebrates Mandela’s Birthday

Posted July 18th, 2011 at 4:20 am (UTC-5)
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South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela, is celebrating his 93rd birthday Thursday, as people all over the world honor his life by giving back to their own communities.

The United Nations designated the former leader's birthday as Nelson Mandela Day in 2009, with a call for individuals to do 67 minutes of community service to represent the number of years he spent in politics.

Mr. Mandela celebrated with his family in his hometown of Qunu.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday that Mr. Mandela “laid the foundation” for a solid democracy in South Africa, but that more work still needs to be done to address poverty and improve the lives of children.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Mr. Mandela “a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation.”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate led the struggle to bring down South Africa's system of white minority rule and discrimination against blacks. In 1994, he became the country's first black president.